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Miraculous Millet

Drought tolerant, pest resistant, and homegrown—could millet be the next great sustainable grain?

From the insatiable thirst of wheat to the heavy carbon footprint of imported quinoa, many of the whole grains devoured by health-conscious Americans today come at a high environmental cost.That’s one reason Jean Hediger has turned into a millet evangelist.“It’s nutritious, easy to grow, and takes very little water. It’s an environment-friendly crop,” says Hediger from her farm, Golden Prairie, in Colorado, where 60 percent of the U.S. millet crop is grown.High in fiber and protein and a good source of manganese, magnesium, and phosphorous, millet is actually a family of small-seeded grasses first domesticated by African farmers more than 10,000 years ago. Today the grain is still a staple food in India and Africa, but most of the American harvest is sold as birdseed. It has only small market for human consumption in the United States and its commercial value is limited, so farmers are reluctant to try growing it even though it is a resilient crop.In an era when climate change is expected to reduce rainfall across much of the world’s most fertile farmland, millet’s phenomenal drought tolerance makes it …

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